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Military, police tango over Wadume trial

The army and police do not appear to have found common ground in the trial of suspects involved in the murder of officers of the Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT) by soldiers in the state of Taraba on 6 August.

The alleged kidnapper Hamisu Bala (also known as Wadume) was taken to the police command in Jalingo, the state capital, when the operations were attacked by soldiers deemed loyal to Wadume.

The kidnapping suspect was released, but was arrested again.

The army has launched an investigation, but it is said that some forces are increasingly lobbying the authorities to treat the investigative panel’s report as “classified”.

It was learned that the army was reluctant to release its officers and men allegedly involved in the police attack by trial.

The sources reported that the police and the army did not find a common basis on how to conduct the trial.

It has been deduced that the military does not want to submit to the police, who are legally authorized to judge the suspects.

In addition to Wadume, more than 13 suspects have been investigated since a ring was discovered behind the murders.

Sources that know the rivalry between the army and the police have stated that Wadume and other suspects may not be tried soon if the situation does not resolve quickly.

They alleged that some forces do not want the report of the investigative panel released for “security reasons.”

A source: “There seems to be a long silence and unusual delay in charging the suspects to court following refusal by the panel to make the outcome of its investigation public and hand over suspects to the relevant authority for prosecution.

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“Efforts made in the past to know the outcome of the panel investigation has proved unsuccessful following refusal by the military and the police to speak on it.

“The military has the suspected officers and men in its custody and the police have the civilian suspects in their custody.

“Both agencies have to come together for the trial to take place. But there appears to be no synergy between them.”

On what was delaying the prosecution, another source said: “The military does not prosecute; it is the police that do.

“All the military needs to do is to hand over suspects to the police. The facts are clear. They are using the instrumentality of the panel to cause unnecessary delay. The question is: why is it taking them so long to investigate?”

Asked why Wadume has not been charged, Force Spokesman Frank Mba said: “The right people to answer that question would be the panel members.

“They do not have powers to prosecute but until they are done with everything, prosecution may not take place.

“I am not a member of the panel and I don’t speak for the panel, so I am unable to speak about the panel, the status of their investigation, the contents of their report, the summary of their recommendations as well as other things relating to their activities.”

On Wadume’s whereabouts, Mba said: “The only thing I can say is that Wadume is in the custody of government security agents but I will not speak as to which agency and as to his location.”

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